Microsoft Band Obituary

3 minute read

It wasn’t too surprising that Microsoft decided they cancel the Microsoft Band last year. Although they have never officially announced, The Verge reported as much, they have stopped selling them and dissolved the team that made it.

I can’t find the source now, but I read it was because it doesn’t run Windows 10. As an occasional Windows user I couldn’t care less, although the smoother pairing with Microsoft phone almost convinved me to buy one of those, now dead, phones. But I’m too invested in the Apple ecosystem to leave it now, it’s a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome.

I’ve been using a Microsoft band since the first version was released in late 2014. When the 2nd one came out last year immediately got hold of one. I’m no Microsoft fan boy but it had all the capabilities I was looking for in a reasonably priced package.

I suspect the real reason it was cancelled it because it was so unreliable.

When it sucked

I lost count how many replacements I had to get but I’m pretty sure it was the highest of any device of I’ve ever owned. For the most part you could split them into things that were definitely my fault, I broke one screen, scratched another.

But flaky GPS and prematurely splitting straps were all too common a fault and were a design flaw. I don’t think they weren’t tested under pressure, particularly wearing constantly in damp conditions. Speaking of which the skin rashes from the bubbling metal in the first version was very annoying, it was hurting me to wear it.

While the battery was better than an Apple watch it still needed charging every other day, more if I used the GPS a lot.

It’s a little clunkier than I’d would have liked but the upsides outweight that.

When it worked

It did everything I needed it to do. I could get my heart rate without a chest strap. I could track my runs, treks on my bike without need to take my phone too. I could track the my steps and the number of flights of stairs I went up. The screen was a nice size and could see a lot of infomation at a glance. I could track my sleep with more information that just putting my phone on the edge of my bed.

It was never marketed as waterproof but it was practically waterproof, I’m not a swimmer and I still took it off in the shower. I live in Cardiff and it’s pretty wet and it never failed because it was wet, of course the touch screen was useless when it was wet…

Then there were various kinds of notifications (calls, message, twitter, calendar, etc…) which I was excited about at first but gradually turned all but SMS notifications off. Which is very handy when you can’t find your phone or can’t be bothered getting off the sofa. This is something that’s part of every smart watch and was the least interesting thing about it.

When it dies

I’ve been speaking in the past tense but I still have a Microsoft Band 2 after getting it replaced under warranty last month. This month my warranty ran out, just as well they gave me a brand new one this time instead of a refurbished and inevitably faulty one.

I’m sure like Scott Hanselman I’ll be trying to find some creative solutions when it starts to fall apart.

Of course I won’t be replacing it with a Microsoft band, unless they do something new. Sometime this year I’ll be in the market for a device with similar capabilities but reliability will high on the wish list.

Looking at the options in more detail is for another post but it probably won’t be a fitbit, possible either Garmin or Polar. But you quickly get into the professional and expensive range. I don’t think there is a device to solve all the problems I’ve had, perhaps something kind of subdermal impant?

Until that day I’ll settle for some good enough.

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